A BUDDING journalist has made a documentary exploring the controversial proposal for a new oil rig decommissioning site at Hunterston. Student Brandon Cook has shot footage of the site at Hunterston, marine life and the surrounding scenery on the west coast of Scotland for the 27-minute film to explores the case for and against the potential new development. Brandon, 21, says he hopes people find the piece ‘educational’ and told the News about the six months of hard work that went into creating the video.

Large & Millport News 17th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 19 March 2019


There is a “very real risk” that a hacker will blow up a power plant in Britain, the foreign secretary has warned. Jeremy Hunt confirmed that operatives in hostile states such as Russia, China, Iran or North Korea could use a virus to override industrial failsafes. Iran’s nuclear programme was crippled a deade ago when hackers used a virus called Stuxnet, allegedly developed by the US and Israel, to disrupt the rotation of uranium centrifuges. Paul Mason, a Glasgow-based ethical hacker at the cybersecurity company Secarma, told the MisinfoCon conference in Stirling in January that it was “only a matter of time” before somebody blew up a power plant. Mr Hunt this month visited Glasgow University’s cybersecurity lab, one of three facilities in the world specialising in the online threats posed to real world infrastructure. The foreign secretary said Mr Mason was “absolutely right to highlight the risks that we are facing”. “We do have to wake up to the fact that there are very real risks,” he said. “This is not something that will necessarily happen in a warfare situation, it could be a malicious attack. “We are making huge efforts . . . to try to prepare against these eventualities.”

Times 19th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 19 March 2019


Residents living near one of Scotland’s two remaining operating nuclear power stations have been alarmed by proposals to re-start two reactors closed since March and October last year, both of which are showing a growing number of cracks in their graphite cores. The reactors — at Hunterston B nuclear power station in Ayrshire, Scotland, about 35 miles from Glasgow — were shut down last year so the cracks could be inspected. But in November 2018, the investigative news site, The Ferret, revealed that more than 350 cracks had been discovered. The cracking issue has been known about since at least 2006 when cracks in the graphite bricks started to appear as a result of neutron bombardment during fission over many years.

Beyond Nuclear 17th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 18 March 2019


MSPs have hailed plans to build the UK’s first spaceport in the Highlands as a “giant leap” for the local economy – and an “absolute lifeline” for the remote north coast. Holyrood heard that the facility – which could still be based in north Sutherland, Unst on Shetland, or the Uists – would plug a “gap in the market” and enable the region to share a slice of an expected £4 billion market in Scotland. A £17 million rocket-launching site has been proposed for land on the Melness Crofting Estate, near Tongue in Sutherland, and the plans are being driven forward by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), with backing from the UK Space Agency. Local MSP Gail Ross used a Scottish Parliament debate on the subject yesterday to call for communities to start “working together as Team Scotland” to reap the rewards. “With the run-down of Dounreay, it will provide confidence to my area that other industries can and will move into the area, and offset the impact that the closure of Dounreay will have, especially on those people who want to remain and work there,” she said. The SNP MSP added: “This project is an absolute lifeline for my constituency, in one of the most remote, rural, economically-fragile, demographically-challenged parts of Scotland. “We must get behind it and show north Sutherland that they are not forgotten, and to show the world that this little piece of the Highlands is open for business.” But concerns have been expressed in the P&J this week that HIE’s backing for the Sutherland scheme was unfair on other projects, including rival proposals for Unst, which have secured private sector support. Shetland MSP Tavish Scott called for the creation of local enterprise zones to avoid such issues, claiming HIE had been “running down Shetland”. The agency has strongly denied the accusation.

Press & Journal 15th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 17 March 2019

Hartlepool – radwaste

Once you are a nuclear dump, you are forever’ and 13 more things you said about Hartlepool being used to store radioactive waste. Readers have been reacting to news that Hartlepool, has been identified as a potential site for underground storage of the UK’s radioactive waste. A nationwide process is underway to find a site somewhere in England or Wales suitable for a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF). A survey of geological data says rocks of a suitable type and depth are present in Hartlepool and Teesside, as well as elsewhere in the North East. Radioactive Waste Management Ltd (RWM), which is leading the project to develop the facility on behalf of the government, stressed it will only be built where there is community support. It is believed there may be greater support in Hartlepool due to the town already having a nuclear power station, which has an expected decommissioning date of 2024.

Hartlepool Mail 15th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 16 March 2019


The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) notes the recent 8th anniversary of the Fukushima disaster, the largest nuclear accident since Chernobyl. NFLA sends its deepest sympathies to all those who died in Japan on the 11th March 2011, and the thousands of people whose lives have been dislocated due to the long-term evacuation of the area around the stricken reactor. It is also a warning of the inherent risks with nuclear power. In the UK, much of the current concern remains with a number of aging nuclear reactors, particularly Hunterston B. At present, Reactors 3 and 4 at Hunterston B have been offline for almost a year now. But it should also be noted that reactors at Dungeness B are also offline for ‘maintenance’. Reactor 1 at Heysham A and Reactor 2 at Hartlepool are also ‘offline’. Despite this large amount of nuclear energy capacity ‘offline’ the electricity grid is still working effectively, primarily due to the large increases in renewable energy across the UK. At last week’s Hunterston SSG, attended by a NFLA representative, and in related news covered in a BBC News Online article, EDF confirmed over 370 keyway route cracks have now been found on the graphite bricks of Reactor 3, around 10% of the bricks in the reactor core. The BBC article noted that EDF would be looking on presenting a safety case to the Office for Nuclear Regulation seeking a new operational limit of 700 cracks in Reactor 3. The Hunterston B reactor is over 40 years old and is one of the oldest operating nuclear reactors in Europe.

NFLA 13th March 2019 read more »

EDF Energy would like to invite you to attend a public information drop-in session at the Hunterston B Power Station Visitor Centre. The events are being held to update local residents on the graphite inspections, modelling and analysis work that has been taking place on the reactors since we took them both offline. Members of the team will be available to answer any questions about the power station’s operation, address any concerns and you will be able to view information about the operation and safety aspects of the plant.

Largs and Millport News 12th March 2019 read more »

A multi-million pound investment package that will change the face of Ayrshire was rubber-stamped by the three Ayrshire Councils and the UK and Scottish Governments. It is hoped the deal will create approximately 7000 jobs across a wide range of sectors. The investment will be delivered over a 15-year period. Included in the deal will be £14m tourism investment at Irvine Harbourside and Ardeer Peninsula, £18 million for the Centre for Research into Low Carbon Energy and Circular Economy (CECE) at the Hunterston Strategic West Scotland Industrial Hub and £11 million for a subsea fibre optic cable to have its landing point in Irvine, as well as massive projects in South and East Ayrshire.

Irvine Times 12th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 14 March 2019

Nuclear Industry

Gender equality expert Nadia Nagamootoo told local businesses that men need support to create a fair and inclusive workplace. She as speaking at the first birthday celebrations of the Women in Nuclear (WiN) Cumbria group. More than 150 people from 30 businesses across the county gathered at Energus, Lillyhall to mark the occasion on International Women’s Day. They celebrated the branch’s achievements and discussed what still needs to be done to progress gender balance in the nuclear sector. Speakers also included Paul Howarth from the National Nuclear Laboratory and Rebecca Weston from Sellafield Ltd. Claire Gallery-Strong, chair of WiN Cumbria, said: “This wasn’t just a celebration and a pat on the back, it was a way for us to move the conversation to the next level and see what we can do next to make real changes to gender inequality.

Carlisle News & Star 12th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 13 March 2019


Cracks in the graphite reactor blocks at Hunterston B might not pose a safety risk, but they do highlight the age of the UK’s fleet of nuclear reactors, and the worrying lack of projects in the pipeline to bolster the sector.

New Civil Engineer 11th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 11 March 2019


The two reactors at Hunterston B nuclear power plant near Ardrossan are 43 years old – the oldest in Europe. They’re already well beyond their operating lifetimes, which have twice been extended by EDF Energy, and they’re scheduled to close down for good in 2023. However, there’s a serious safety fault in the reactors. The fault is known as keyway root-cracking: where the graphite moderator cores in the reactors develop cracks leading to instabilities that could lead to a major nuclear accident: which would lead to a large swathe of Scotland’s central belt having to be evacuated. The reactors have been closed since October 2018 as a result, but owners EDF Energy are currently making a case for turning them back on, with help from trade union GMB. Although the probability of a meltdown is still low, the consequences could be incredibly severe. In such an event, both Glasgow and Edinburgh would need to be entirely evacuated due to radioactive contamination. According to Dr Ian Fairlie, an independent consultant on radioactivity in the environment, and Dr David Toke, Reader in Energy Policy at the University of Aberdeen, the two reactors definitely should not be restarted. Speaking about the cracks in the barrels, they say: “This is a serious matter because if an untoward incident were to occur – for example an earth tremor, gas excursion, steam surge, sudden outage, or sudden depressurisation, the barrels could become dislodged and/or misaligned. “These events could in turn lead to large emissions of radioactive gases. Further, if hot spots were to occur and if nuclear fuel were to react with the graphite moderator they could lead to explosions inside the reactor core. “In the very worst case the hot graphite core could become exposed to air and ignite leading to radioactive contamination of large areas of central Scotland, including the metropolitan areas of Glasgow and Edinburgh.”

Edinburgh Live 8th March 2019 read more »

On March 8, the BBC published a news item about cracks in the Hunterston B nuclear reactors. Whilst it is good that the story highlighted reporting of the safety issues surrounding the plant and, in particular, included photographs of the cracked graphite core, we wish to correct several inaccuracies. The BBC article claims that early decommissioning could cause serious energy supply problems. This is simply not the case and is alarmist nonsense: the reality is that Scotland has, if anything, an oversupply of electricity. Both Hunterston and Torness could be closed without problem to Scotland’s electricity supplies. The BBC article then states that “Concerns have also been raised about the consequences for local jobs if Hunterston closed early.”As pointed out in our article, few if any jobs would be lost if the reactors Hunterston B were closed permanently: dealing with the immense heat rates from radioactive decay even from closed reactors will guarantee jobs there for the first 2 to 3 years. After that decommissioning will provide more jobs then when the reactors operated, just as is occurring at the closed reactors at Dounreay. The BBC cites Councillor Tom Marshall as stating: “Most of the large employers round about here have disappeared – and this is one of the last major employers. So, if it is safe to run most people locally would be happy to see it running.” We obviously share the concerns of local people about deindustrialisation and the appalling effects of the UK Government’s uncivilised austerity programmes in Scotland. But local councillors should not be misled by incorrect statements by the nuclear industry. Closing Hunterston B for good will not lead to large numbers of job losses: the contrary in fact.

Ianfairlie 8th March 2019 read more »

Dave Toke’s Blog 8th March 2019 read more »

CONCERN was growing last night after pictures emerged of widening cracks inside the nuclear reactor at Hunterston power station in Ayrshire. It was known that the reactor, number three at the Hunterston B plant, had over 370 cracks in its graphite fuel bricks that were found during routine inspections last year and which in turn led to the reactor being shut down. Owners EDF Energy admitted yesterday that some of the hairline cracks were widening faster than expected. They posted a video online and issued a letter to local people stating information about the inspection process. The letter said: “When we take the reactor offline for an inspection the way we are able to identify keyway root cracking is by using specialist equipment to film and take measurements of the inside of the graphite fuel bricks. We do this by safely removing the fuel stringer from a channel then we pass a camera down the inside. Keyway root cracks are extremely narrow when they occur and this method allows us to observe very fine cracks, as small as 0.5mm wide; like the tip of a fine pen.” EDF added that footage from the problem reactor “shows a crack that had an average width of 1.1mm at first inspection and has grown by around 1.8mm to 2.9mm wide.” The plant’s director Colin Weir told BBC Scotland that the company would ask for the reactor to be re-started, saying: “Nuclear safety is our overriding priority and reactor three has been off for the year so that we can do further inspections. We’ve carried out one of our biggest ever inspection campaigns on reactor three; we’ve renewed our modelling, we’ve done experiments and tests and we’ve analysed all the data from this to produce our safety case that we will submit to the Office for Nuclear Regulation.”

The National 9th March 2019 read more »

Footage has been released of cracks found inside a reactor at a nuclear plant in Scotland. The unit at Hunterston B in North Ayrshire has not been operating after the cracks were found to be growing faster than expected. In March last year a planned inspection of the graphite bricks that make up the core of reactor 3 uncovered new “keyway root cracks”. EDF Energy, which owns and operates the plant, said these have now grown to an average of 2mm wide. The firm has released footage of the cracks, which was taken in 2017 and 2018.

Guardian 8th March 2019 read more »

The operational limit for the latest period of operation was 350 cracks but EDF plans to ask the regulator for a new operational limit of up to 700 cracks. Hunterston B is expected to continue producing electricity until 2023 – but it could be forced into decommissioning before then because of the cracks. The 10metre-high, 1,400-tonne reactor is made up of 3,000 graphite bricks and the plant provides electricity for 1.8 million homes when all the reactors are running.

Independent 8th March 2019 read more »

Daily Record 8th March 2019 read more »

Glasgow Evening Times 8th March 2019 read more »

Gloucester Live 8th March 2019 read more »

Sky News 8th March 2019 read more »

Herald 8th March 2019 read more »

Mirror 8th March 2019 read more »

Dundee Courier 8th March 2019 read more »

The company accepts that the cracking is ‘life-limiting’ for the reactor but will not say what it believes to be a limit beyond which it would be unsafe to operate. Concerns have also been raised about the consequences for 700 local jobs if Hunterston closed early. Largs councillor Tom Marshall said: “Most of the large employers round about here have disappeared – from Greenock all the way down to Kilmarnock – and this is one of the last major employers.”So, if it is safe to run most people locally would be happy to see it running.”

Largs & Millport News 8th March 2019 read more »

Ardrossan Herald 8th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 9 March 2019


EDF Energy, owned by French group EDF, has extended outages at its Dungeness B21 and B22 nuclear reactors in Britain by about six months to complete inspections on steam pipes and corrosion repairs, it said on Friday. The 1.1 gigawatt (GW) Dungeness B site’s two reactors – unit 21 and unit 22 – have been offline for planned outages since late last summer. The company has been carrying out inspections and maintenance of pipes that carry steam to the turbine at the plant on the south coast of England. The company is also trying to complete repair work on corrosion identified during inspections of safety back-up systems.

Reuters 8th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 9 March 2019